an Online Journal of Sorts

By Alyce Wilson

January 9, 2007 - A Gamer's Birthday

Scrapbook (Click to enlarge)

On Saturday, after our appointment with the event coordinator at our reception site, we attended a birthday party for the wife of one of The Gryphon's friends from PAGE (Philadelphia Area Game Enthusiasts).

The party was held in the same place where PAGE holds its Tuesday night meetings, above a suburban VFW. We got there just a little after 3, which was when the party was supposed to start.

As we arrived, a bunch of guys were coming out to their cars, and The Gryphon joked, "Oh, no, we missed it!" But in truth, they were gathering up some boxes full of games. No surprises there.

When people first arrived, they just socialized. There were chips and pretzels on the table, and soda and water available in the bar area. Everybody mingled and made introductions.

I checked out the tables set up at the front of the room, which included a number of scrapbook pages people were encouraged to sign. I thought this was a cool idea, and it might be nice to do something like that at our wedding reception.

We spoke to the hostess, of course. She's a short brunette with curly hair and glasses, and something in her body language reminded me of one of my favorite recent "Saturday Night Live" alumni, Rachel Dratch. She wore a chocolate brown top with gold embroidery and a dark pair of jeans, which looked great on her.

She seemed a cheerful sort, and I don't think it was just because it was her birthday. She laughed a lot, which made it difficult to take a good picture of her. The best one I got was near the end of the party. She gave a queenly wave while wearing a balloon hat made by one of the party guests.

Birthday queen in balloon hat (Click to enlarge)

I spent a lot of time talking to a woman dressed in aqua with a silver and turquoise necklace and even aqua socks under her long black skirt. She had long, light blonde and startlingly blue eyes, and she was taking lots of pictures of the party.

The woman in aqua and I spoke about wedding planning, since it was fresh in my mind, having just talked to the event coordinator. She gave me some ideas for creative things to do. She even took a picture of me and The Gryphon. The first one was soft focus because the flash was turned off.

Gryphon and Alyce, soft focus (Click to enlarge)

She then took another one, using the flash.

Gryphon and Alyce, with flash (Click to enlarge)

The hostess' son was a tall, thin 12-year-old who was rapidly outgrowing his jeans. He seemed bored and was finding ways to amuse himself, such as putting a balloon display on the floor and boxing it. He later helped people choose music from a setup that consisted of a computer, iPod and a speaker system.

Some other people arrived whom I recognized, including a guy I'll call The Actor, who does a lot of acting in regional theater. He's always smiling and joking around, and The Gryphon spent a lot of time talking to him.

The Dormouse and The March Hare also arrived, although The March Hare left early because he was just recovering for a cold. When I think about all the people I've been around who are sick, I must have tons of antibodies by now, which I hope is a good thing.

I was hoping that maybe later there would be a little dancing, since there was plenty of floor space and also music, but that didn't materialize, with the exception of people dancing along to a European pop song popularized by a viral video of a young guy lip-synching to it.

Food arrived at about 5, which included turkey and ham subs and hot wings. I had a small turkey sub.

Soon there were, of course, two tables full of people playing games. At first, we just watched them, but then we joined a game or two.

Card game (Click to enlarge)

One of the games was called The Great Dalmuti, and it seems like it would be a good family game, because the rules are pretty easy and it doesn't involve complex strategy. It's just a matter of putting cards down. That's why, after a couple hands, I found it tedious and was relieved when they switched to another game.

The other game we played, I'm not sure what it was called. It involved flipping cards over and then, if you matched someone else's on the table by shape or, if there is a specialty card in play, by color, you compete to grab a wooden totem in the center of the table. Whoever grabs it wins the round and the other person gets the cards. The goal is to get rid of all your cards.

At the beginning of the game, someone grabbed for the totem and accidentally flung it hard so that it bounced off my collar bone rather painfully. It didn't leave a mark, though, like I expected it to do. I wasn't that fond of this game, but I can see how it could be fun with the right group of people.

Then the hostess started opening her gifts. She got a lot of girlie things like clothes and jewelry, plus some kitchen things and a book on salads, along with some specialty oil and vinegar. The Gryphon and I got her a gift card to Bath and Body Works so she can get herself something she likes.

She also got, of course, some games, but the big gift was from her husband. We all did a drum roll as she opened it. She squealed in delight: the gift was tickets to a rock cruise, where she and her husband will attend what is essentially a folk rock/jam band festival on a cruise ship featuring such bands as Better Than Ezra.

After the gift opening came the cake. After singing "Happy Birthday", they sang a birthday dirge that everybody knew. I don't know where they learned it, but everybody seems to know it. This was the third birthday party we'd been to in the last several months where this song was sung.

While they were singing it, I turned to The Gryphon and told him we won't be singing the dirge at his 40th birthday party this summer. He said that's OK.

The cake was a chocolate store-bought cake, and I had a little piece of it, my one real splurge at the party.

One of the party guests, as I've already mentioned, started doing balloon animals near the end of the party. He soon had a circle of admirers around him, making requests. His skills were quite remarkable. He created, for example, a poodle riding a bicycle.

Poodle riding a bicycle (Click to enlarge)

He also made some fantastic hats, such as a hat modeled by The Actor which could easily be worn in either a Mummer's parade or a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

Fancy hat (Click to enlarge)      Fancy hat from the side (Click to enlarge)

We left when The Dormouse left, because we needed to follow him. We'd hit a detour on the way to the party and weren't sure how to get home. The Dormouse has been driving to the meetings and knew where to go. The Gryphon has been using public transportation.

Attending yet another big birthday party reminds me that I need to plan for The Gryphon's 40th birthday this summer. It's going to be a big year for him. A big year for us both!

Balloon animals are a hit with any age party guest.

Copyright 2006 by Alyce Wilson

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